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Photo courtesy of Nicolas Nguyen

MESA triumphs at MESA Day competition

After months of project preparation, the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) club began its competition season, winning 54 medals at the MESA Day preliminary competition.

With their projects ready, 66 San Gabriel MESA members competed against MESA members from other high schools at California State University, Los Angeles in a wide variety of events, ranging from mathematics to balsa wood airplanes.

“Our students represented our school well, regardless of whether they placed or not,” MESA adviser Nicolas Nguyen said. “Students placing is a bonus. Students who didn’t place have definitely gained more experience and have learned a thing or two, so they can improve their projects for next year.”

San Gabriel MESA members swept 11th grade Solo Math and 12th grade Team Math Quest, winning first, second, and third place for both events.

“It’s reassuring that we are doing something correctly in our math department,” Nguyen said. “I’m very proud of our students. Their performances also reflect on the work that our teachers put in to get them prepared.”

Nguyen stated that he “hopes for students to see math and science in action” and to learn “how to advocate for themselves” during competitions.

This year, MESA piloted a new event called Rube Goldberg. The overall goal of the project is to the construct a device that utilizes four different actions and three different types of energy to accurately land a small vinyl kick ball on a target.

“[The competition] was quite nerve-racking because sometimes when our project would work consistently and the weather was to our liking, we would have to wait for other groups,” senior Jamie Yang, whose team placed second in the pilot event, said. “By the time it was our turn, nothing was [in] our favor.”

Yang stated that the “judges weren’t really familiar with the event, so there were a lot of inconsistencies.”

“I am quite happy about my results because our project [had] some parts that just don’t work sometimes,” Yang said. “My group and I plan on just fixing the little things. I want us to be confident that our project will work every time.”

The day before the competition freshman Chingying Li found herself in a situation where her balsa wood airplane landed on top of the MS-building.

“I was testing my airplane after school next to the library and E-building,” Li said. “Unfortunately, the plane landed on the roof of the MS-building. I asked for help, but no one had a ladder.”

Despite this setback, Li went home and built a new airplane, improving on her previous airplane’s model.

“It was great that I finished up on time,” Li said. “I actually changed my blueprints a little bit because my previous airplane was kind of unbalanced.”

Her airplane sustained flight for 24 seconds at the competition, winning her first place for the event. To prepare for the regional competition, Li plans to “make more designs, build more than one airplane, and test which one will the best one for regionals.”

“I hope [to] have a longer flight time, to do better than how I did for MESA day, and to place,” Li said.

MESA members who have placed in MESA Day will be competing in the regional competition on April 15.

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